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Sunday, August 08, 2004

For the Fan Who Wants Everything -- I don't know if you caught last night's Justice League Unlimited episode on Cartoon Network, but it was an adaptation of Superman Annual #11 by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, "For the Man Who Has Everything." And it was spectacular.

Don't get me wrong, it's not a note-for-note adaptation -- the TV show has less than 20 minutes to work with once you slice out the commercials and opening and closing sequences. But adapter JM DeMatteis is really to be saluted for distilling down the important moments of the story and getting the gist of it just right:


1. Robin is excised from the story (probably because of Teen Titans Go, not the fact that he was Jason Todd in the original comic), but the witty dialogue in the opening arrival-at-the-Fortress is intact and still amusing.

2. The building sense of horror at what is being done to Superman within his fantasy-world is note-perfect, including the distant rumbles and the still-devastating goodbye to his fictional child.

3. Diana's "Go to HeFZZAAAPPPP" was wonderfully effective, treading the line just right for this all-ages series' nod to old bastards like me and demonstrating why this TV series, in its second season, is likely to remain so superior not only the current version of the comics that inspired it, but to 95 percent of all superhero comics being published today.

4. Although suitable for all ages, this episode's mining of emotional power is really impressive -- virtually every powerful scene from the original comic is intact, from Superman's out-of-control rage at his mindrape to the hilarious sense of relief when the flower is finally dropped on Mongul.

The episode is rerun this afternoon at 5 PM Eastern and probably next Saturday morning sometime as well. I've been hoping for a Justice League Season One DVD set for months now, but this episode needs to be issued on DVD, hopefully as quickly as Starcrossed (last season's excellent season finale) made it into stores. It's a powerful tribute to the enduring appeal of DC's big three superhero icons, a faithful adaptation of one of the most significant stories in superhero comics history, and a vivid action story with a beating human heart that demands rewatching and sharing. I want special features on the making of the episode, and I want someone to work the magick needed to get Alan Moore, DeMatteis and producer Bruce Timm to do the commentary track.

I don't ask for much, do I?

Alan David Doane, Elitist Superhero Hater and Artcomix Snob (as if you couldn't tell...)


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